National Bank of Abu Dhabi: From Philanthropy to Sustainability

Responsible Business - Abu Dhabi

While investigating the CSR standing of companies in the Middle East region, Responsible Business noticed an exemplary performance by a leading bank in the United Arab Emirates.  The National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) showed a remarkable track record with a commitment to social programs spanning over 40 years. Responsible Business inquired further to learn more about who they are and what they do.

Responsibility has been embedded in the corporate culture of NBAD since the beginning of their journey in 1968 where they were enabled to proactively support the development of the banking and financial sector in the UAE; a fundamental commitment and continuous contribution of NBAD for over 40 years. 

As early as 1973, NBAD was providing access to financial products and services to the UAE community which contributed to the development of infrastructure in Abu Dhabi and the UAE thereby increasing economic success and improving social wellbeing. Since the outset, their intention has been the development and provision of financial products and services to meet the needs of their customers and increase economic prosperity within the community.  They have made a significant contribution to the creation and development of a flourishing domestic banking and financial services sector and have actively supported community development through a combination of charitable donations and philanthropic activity.  This initial responsible approach to business and social activity was the foundations of their ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ (CSR) although they did not develop a formal strategy until 2009.

The move from non-strategic corporate social responsibility to a strategic corporate sustainability began to take root back in 2003 when NBAD formalised their first CSR policy. They began by looking at their internal and external activities to understand what their impacts were as a leading and responsible bank.  By 2006, they had established two key annual activities which have remained significant parts of their social and community commitments to this day. 

By the end of 2006 a dedicated CSR section was included in the annual NBAD report, and by the end of 2007 they had employed a full time dedicated CSR officer. Over the years, the senior management of NBAD has been committed and supportive of efforts to contribute to the community.  One of their most enduring charitable partnerships is with the Red Crescent Society and they were one of the legacy donors of the Emirates Foundation.

In the Department of Planning & Economy’s 2008 issue covering the Abu Dhabi Economic and Social Report, the social responsibilities of the private sector were set out clearly. Together with the Government of Abu Dhabi’s Policy Agenda 2007 and the Economic Vision 2030, developed in 2008, the ‘National Bank’, committed to the continuation of their contribution to the long term sustainable development of Abu Dhabi by delivering on Government’s requirements, and formally committing to Sustainability under the Board Charter.

In 2008, the bank’s Strategy Committee set out to make NBAD the leading sustainable bank in the region. In the same year they became founding members of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Group (ADSG) and signed a declaration to working towards achieving sustainable development and working towards building a cohesive society and an open economy capable of global competitiveness.  At the end of 2009, NBAD was voted to the General Secretariat of the ADSG and currently serves as a member of several flagship programs and taskforces within the group.

In 2010, they became the first UAE bank to issue a standalone sustainability report.  Along with the report, they created a strategy consisting of six priority focus areas (see graph above) to address the needs of their stakeholders and to keep their internal efforts on track while raising awareness and understanding among their employees.  By mid-2010, they had created the internal Sustainability Stakeholder Group with the purpose of implementing their sustainability strategy in collaboration with their Sustainability Champions to support the Corporate Sustainability team and ensure that the performance of the group businesses is directed towards achieving NBAD’s sustainability objectives, as well as the objectives of Abu Dhabi as a whole.

Throughout the years, NBAD has evolved to fit the changing standards of sustainability, going beyond what is required to become an exemplary model of sustainable business practices.



SourceResponsible Business Magazine




All, 2012